On its surface, this might look like just another standard run-of-the-mill If the Spoon Fits post. And certainly, it has all the elements: dark, messy photography, Millennial self-importance, mild to moderate senseless rambling, and of course, an overly complex and ingredient-heavy ice cream recipe.
But dig a little more deeply, and what you’ll find is a post that’s the cyber embodiment of my darkest insecurities, fears, guilt, familial pressures, and paralyzing perfectionism.
…Okay, so maybe I’m being just a leetle dramatic. But seriously, you guys, I can’t tell you how much this post has tortured me the past few weeks and even, months (gulp).
First of all, I haven’t posted anything new on the ol’ blog since August, and the guilt alone has brought me to near tears on several occasions. This post has been sitting in “draft” status for nearly 6 weeks now, which produces a very special kind of anxiety in my life; the kind that creates 3am stomach aches and middle-of-the-workday regrets about avoiding my creative pursuits and allowing Corporate America to manipulate my free time.
But obviously, rather than just take an afternoon to finish the post, I’d rather spend two months waging psychological warfare on myself, then tell you all about it in hyper dramatic fashion (like I said, Millennial).
Secondly, I’m apprehensive about this post in general, primarily because s’mores flavored anything is so…overdone. I like to make things that are interesting, or uncommon, or at least what I think are somewhat special, and s’mores is one of the most ubiquitous of flavors. I’m feeling very suburban, basic, and insecure about this decision.
Third, s’mores is a really special flavor to my family and me, and I’ve thus self-imposed an impossible creative standard upon myself, which has resulted in crushing intimidation and unreasonable late-night doubts.
I’m sure many families in America have fond memories of sitting around a campfire at some point, marshmallows roasting up to a perfect crisp, then smashing said marshmallows into a generous piece of Hershey’s chocolate. My s’mores memories are similar, but swap out a campfire for a toaster oven, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide childhood memory.
I feel a special sentiment towards s’mores because they are the first thing I ever made on my own. I loved watching the marshmallows puff up and crisp on the edges, and experimenting with different varieties of chocolates and toppings.
Culinary pursuits aside, s’mores are also one of the key glues that binds me to my French brother-in-law, Pascal.
When Pascal first came into our lives so many years ago, I had never met a French person before. In fact, growing up in rural-ish Ohio, I don’t think I’d met anyone from outside my state before. I worried about what we would talk about; did he like ballet? Or Polly Pocket? Because at that time, those were my general areas of expertise, and unless a person shared those interests, I had no idea where to go conversationally.
I don’t remember when or how, but at some point during Pascal’s first visit to Ohio, we arrived at the topic of s’mores. Although it was unfathomable to me, Pascal revealed that marshmallows and graham crackers were hard to find in Paris, and thus, he had NEVER had a s’more before.
I immediately had the reaction of someone who finds an injured bird on the street – an instant and overwhelming need to take care of him and show him the life he was missing.
My mom proposed that I make him one of my special smores (disclaimer: nothing really that special about it other than the fact that I made it).
Pascal was SO excited. To this day, I still remember him sitting at the head of the table in the my childhood home, beaming with delight as marshmallow and melted chocolate covered his face.
And I was beyond proud. That something I made, could make someone so happy. It never occurred to me that he could just be trying to please the little sister of the woman that he was trying to date and ultimately marry, but whatever. I didn’t really care. Because we had a S’mores Bond.
Unspoken. Everlasting. Unbreakable.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the first time in my life that I made the connection between food and happiness and culture. At the end of this summer, when I started craving melty gooey chocolate and the taste of nearly burnt marshmallows, I knew it was time to face my fears and live up to the legacy that my family bestwed upon me so many years ago.
It was time for S’mores Ice Cream.
There were many different directions that I could have gone for the base, but I opted for roasted marshmallow. Not only did I include blended roasted marshmallows in the base, but i also left chunks of marshmallows intact, which stayed nice and chewy and soft when frozen because of their high sugar content.
I made my own chocolate chips so that they would have a nice truffle-like texture in the sea of marshmallow cream, and put together some make-shift salty graham cracker “cookie” chunks by mixing some butter, sea salt, and graham crumbs and melting it all together in the microwave. I then swirled these throughout my ice cream base so that every bite contained salty-sweet goodness.
The finishing touch? Super delicious and savory graham cracker cones.
I invested in an ice cream cone maker early on in my blogging journey because I knew that I would get a lot of mileage out of it. However, if you don’t have a cone maker, you have a few different options: you can bake the cones like cookies and then shape them into cones while they are still hot, you could use a normal waffle iron and just eat the ice cream on top of waffles, or you could bake the cones as previously mentioned into little circles and then drape them on the bottom of glasses to create a “bowl” shape – edible ice cream bowl!
I did my best with this post (more importantly, this ice cream), even though it was a little bit of an emotional roller coaster.
It’s a little bit like my family – super diverse, salty and sweet, a little bit messy, a little bit imperfect- but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Bon appétit! And happy scooping 🙂
S’mores Ice Cream with Graham Cracker Cones
Yield: Heaping 1 Quart
For the Ice Cream Base:
3 cups marshmallows (preferably mini, but normal sized works too!)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
For the Chocolate Chunks:
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
For the Graham Cracker “Cookies”
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter
Large pinch of salt, or to taste
For the Graham Cracker Cones:
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature
Make the Ice Cream Base:
- Preheat your broiler.
- Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the marshmallows on the prepared pan, and roast in your broiler for no more than 2 or 3 minutes. WATCH IT like a hawk. Seriously, don’t leave the room! You want toasted marshmallows, not burnt-to-a-crisp ones.
- Remove from oven and set aside. Place half in the jar of blender, and reserve the rest for later.
- In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes exactly.
- After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch and milk mixture that you made in Step 1. Add combined mixture back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cream cheese. Once cream cheese is completely incorporated, allow to cool slightly (15 minutes or so). Then, add half the mixture to the jar of your blender with the marshmallows. Blend until completely smooth, then incorporate back with the rest of your mixture. Stir until combined, then move to an airtight storage container, and store in the fridge overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
Make the Chocolate Chunks:
- In a microwave safe dish, combine chocolate chips and oil and microwave on 15 second increments until fully melted.
- Spread melted chocolate on parchment paper, and chill until set, about 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, break into pieces or cut with a pizza cutter into medium or large sized pieces (really, your preference!). Reserve until you’re ready to make the ice cream (try not to eat them all while you’re waiting!).
Make the buttery Graham “Cookies”:
- Combine all ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Allow to cool, set aside.
Make the Graham Cracker Cones:
1. In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs and salt until evenly combined, about 1 minute.
2. Add the sugar, and beat for 2 minutes, until combined.
3. Gently add in the 1/3 cup of flour, stirring until it is absorbed into the batter.
4. Add in the graham crumbs.
5. Add the melted butter, and stir until blended.
6. Add about 1/8 cup of batter to preheated waffle cone iron, and let cook until the waffle iron setting indicates that the waffle is finished. You want the cone to be a golden brown – if the waffle isn’t as dark as you would like it, feel free to leave it in the iron for a few more minutes (just make sure it doesn’t burn!)
7. Remove the waffle from the iron with a spatula and immediately place onto a hot towel. Use the towel to tightly wrap the waffle around a cone form, making sure you pinch the bottom of the cone so that ice cream cannot leak out in the future (Or, you can just add a mini marshmallow or some chocolate chips). Hold the cone around the mold for a few seconds to ensure it sets its shape, then place in a drinking glass or cone holder to allow it to cool.
(Finished cones should last a few weeks when stored in an airtight container).
Put it all together:
- Remove the ice cream base from your fridge and freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- During the last two minutes of churning, add in chocolate chips and extra toasted marshmallows that your previously set aside.
- When placing your ice cream into your storage container, alternate ice cream with layers of graham “cookies” to create a swirled effect.
- Freeze overnight until hardened, or for at least 6 hours.